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How to Save Electricity at Home: 101 Powerful Tips

Updated 19 January 2017 by Thomas
Energy efficient home

Paying to run the appliances and gadgets we all own these days is not cheap:

The average annual electricity bill is now £584 per UK household.

As a result, many households struggle to pay their energy bills.

We all know we should save as much electricity as possible to cut our bills and reduce carbon emissions at the same time.

But where do you start?

Our 101 electricity saving tips cover all areas of your home - from heating to kitchen appliances, computers and even your garden.

Ready to save some money? Here is how:

Getting started

1. Focus on the biggest energy users first

Electric heating is by far the single biggest consumer of electricity in your home and costs more to run than gas central heating.

Electric water heaters and electric showers can also large amounts of electricity. Focusing on lighting, TVs and appliances can also help to cut your bill.

Electric heating

2. Turn down the thermostat on electric heaters

Most rooms are overheated and turning down the electric heater’s thermostat by just 1-2 degrees will already make a difference to your electricity bill.

Futura eco electric radiator
Electric heating can significantly increase your electricty bill. Image by zehnder.co.uk

3. Get loft and cavity wall insulation

Older properties in particular can have insufficient levels of insulation and huge amounts of energy are lost through the roof and un-insulated walls.

You could get free roof and wall insulation through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) Scheme

4. Don’t use electric fan heaters

Portable fan heaters are hugely wasteful and even small models can consume lots of electricity. Running a 2kW fan heater for 5 hours every day will cost you £511** per year!

5. Get a thermometer

The recommended temperature for your house or apartment is 21°C in winter.

Buy a thermometer and check the room temperature daily to make sure you don’t waste electricity by overheating.

6. Draft-proof your home

A significant amount of heat can be lost through gaps around windows and doors. Make sure to keep as much heat in by draft-proofing your home.

7. Install secondary glazing

Secondary glazing is a cost-effective way of insulating & sound-proofing your windows.

8. Replace electric storage heaters

Electric heating is the most expensive and least environmentally friendly form of heating your home. Although replacing electric heaters with gas central heating or other alternatives has a large upfront cost, it can save you around £340* per year on your heating bill.

9. Heat only the rooms you use regularly

Reducing your electric heating bill can save you hundreds of pounds per year.

Avoid burning electricity to heat rooms that are rarely or never used and turn the heating off if you leave the house for long periods of time.

10. Use curtains to keep warm

Heavy curtains will help to insulate against cold drafts from windows and keep your room warm in winter.

11. Use cheaper night-time electricity

Ask your electricity supplier to change to an Economy 7 meter so you can take advantage of cheaper night-time electricity rates. However, remember that this may be cheaper but it does not improve the environmental impact unless you also reduce the amount of electricity you use.

Air conditioning

12. Use a fan instead of air conditioning

Just like heating, cooling also requires large amounts of electricity

It rarely gets so hot in the UK that air conditioning you home becomes necessary. Ceiling of pedestal fans are more economical than air conditioning.

Cooking & Baking

13. Buy an energy efficient oven

Check the energy label when buying a new oven and choose one with a rating of A+ or above.

14. Use the oven as little as possible

Many meals can be prepared without using the oven. Often you can cook faster and prepare healthier meals on the hob.

15. Plan your meals

If possible, cook several meals in the oven at a time to the heat is used most efficiently. You can always keep cooked food in the fridge for a few days and reheat later, saving time and electricity.

16. Keep the over door shut

Opening the oven door several times while cooking will allow a lot of heat to escape. The oven then needs to use additional electricity to reach the preset temperature level again.

17. Allow time for food to defrost

Allow frozen food to defrost in the fridge or at room temperature for several hours before cooking.

18. Put lids on pans

Cooking with the lid on is faster and saves electricty

Pans without lids lose heat much faster and boil slower. Putting lids on and pans will keep the pot boiling at a lower temperature setting.

Pot with lid on electric stove
Using a lid when cooking saves enegy and time

19. Use the smallest size pan

Smaller pans use less electricity to heat up.

20. Use you oven’s fan mode

A fan assist oven allows you to cook food at a lower temperature as it distributes hot air around the oven more evenly.

21. Turn the oven off early

Ovens keep warm long after they have been switched off. Set your timer so you remember to turn the oven off around 10 minutes before your meal is fully cooked. The remaining heat will continue to cook your food.

22. Use right size ring on your cooker

Picking a ring that’s too large will allow heat to escape around the pan. Too small and cooking will simply take longer.

23. Use waste heat from cooking

Your hob and oven will give off large amounts of heat when cooking. Leave the oven door open when finished and turn down your heating.

24. Use a microwave instead of the oven or hob

Microwaves are more energy efficient than hobs and ovens

Use a microwave to heat your food whenever possible.

25. Use a toaster instead of a grill

Toasters are much more effective than toasting bread under a grill and it will switch off automatically when your toast is ready

Toast in toaster

26. Use a slow cooker

Slow cookers have shed their retro image sales are booming amongst consumers looking to cut their spending.

Using about as much energy as a light bulb, slow cookers perform best with less expensive ingredients. They will save money off your electricity bill and your shopping bill too.

27. Cut vegetables and meat into smaller pieces

This will spend up the cooking process as heat reaches the inner parts of your food more easily.

Tea & Coffee

28. Don’t boil water on an electric hob

Using a kettle is more energy efficient and faster than boiling water on an electric hob

If you have a gas hob, it might actually work out cheaper than a kettle due to the lower price of gas.

29. Only fill your kettle with the water you need

Don’t fill your kettle to the top you are only making 1 or 2 cups of tea and you could save £7* per year.

30. Descale your kettle regularly

Your kettle will require more energy the heat water if it is full of lime scale.

31. Buy an eco kettle

Eco kettles can keep water hot for up to four hours

Eco kettles work like a thermal flask and some allow you to fill them with water and then select the exact amount you want to boil.

Fridges & Freezers

32. Buy an energy efficient fridge & freezer

Fridges and freezers can contribute around 20% to the electricity bill of an average home. If your fridge or freezer is more than 10 years old it you will likely be able to reduce the electricity cost of your home by investing in a more energy efficient model.

33. Compare fridge and freezer energy labels when shopping

Compare energy consumption and energy rating, as there can be big differences between models.

Energy consumption is measured in kilowatt-hours per year (kWh/annum). The energy label below shows an annual electricity consumption of 299 kWh/annum. Assuming an electricity price of £0.14 per kWh, this fridge-freezer would cost 299 kWh/annum * £0.14/kWh = £41.86 per year to run.

Fridge energy label

34. Defrost food inside your fridge

It will help to keep your food fresh for longer when defrosted and help to cool your fridge too.

35. Check fridge & freezer seals

Seals around the doors can get brittle or break and loose some of their insulation value. Make sure seals are in good condition and replace them if they are damaged

36. Don’t buy a bigger fridge-freezer than necessary

The size of the fridge and freezer you buy should provide sufficient space for your lifestyle but don’t waste energy and space in your home by buying an appliance that is bigger than necessary.

37. Don’t leave the fridge doors open

Don’t stand in front of the fridge thinking what to cook. Take food out and shut the door quickly before too much cold air escapes.

38. Allow food to cool down

Leave food outside until it has cooled down before putting it into the fridge or freezer.

39. Check the temperature inside your fridge

Check the temperature inside your fridge is between 1-5°C

Too warm and your food will go off quickly. Any lower, your food will freeze and the fridge will burn electricity unnecessarily.

40. Defrost freezers regularly

Ice built up inside a freezer requires it to work harder to maintain the same temperature.

Defrosting your freezer at least once a year will remove any ice built up and give you an opportunity to clear out and clean the freezer too. Many new models are frost-free, so defrosting won't be necessary.

Water in defrosted fridge

41. Avoid an empty fridge or freezer

Fridges and freezers work most efficiently when they are about three quarters full.

42. Don’t overfill your fridge & freezer

Fridges circulate air around food to keep it cool. A fridge that’s too full will need to work harder.

43. Unplug your second fridge

If you have a fridge or freezer in the garage or basement that is not used regularly, switch it off.

Cleaning & Laundry

44. Get an energy efficient vacuum cleaner

A vacuum cleaner's power rating is not a good indicator of its cleaning performance.

Check the energy rating and suction rating of a vacuum cleaner before buying.

45. Use a mop or broom

Many hard floor surfaces are better cleaned with a mop or broom. It’s simpler & quieter than a vacuum cleaner and no electricity is required either.

46. Fully load washing machines

This ensures water and energy is used in the most efficient way.

47. Wash clothes at 30-40°C

Modern washing machines and detergents will deliver perfect results at lower temperatures.

Washing machines use most of their energy to heat water. Selecting a lower temperature cycle will cut electricty usage.

48. Avoid using a tumble dryer

Tumble dryers use a lot of electricity, costing between 15p-50p per load.

Hang up your laundry to dry whenever you can.

49. Spin dry clothes before drying

If you have to use a tumble dryer, make sure you spin-dry clothes at the highest setting before putting them into the dryer.

50. Clean lint filters regularly

Blocked filters will reduce the efficiency of tumble dryers and it will take longer for your clothes to dry.

51. Invest in a more energy efficient washing machine

Check the energy rating and water consumption when buying a new washing machine. Newer machines are much better for the environment.

52. Use eco cycles

Eco cycles are designed to save water and electricity - most modern washing machines have an eco cycle.

Dishwashers

53. Avoid washing up by hand

Dishwashers use far less hot water than washing up by hand

If you have an electric water heater in your kitchen, using a dishwasher will save electricity, as less water needs to be heated. Even if your water is heated by your gas central heating system, the environmental benefit of saving a significant amount of water will outweigh the small amount of electricity that is required by the diswasher.

Dishwashers also use higher temperatures than woud be possible compared to washing up by hand resulting in cleaner dishes.

54. Fill your dishwasher

A full dishwasher uses electricity and water most efficiently so wait until it is full before switching it on.

55. Let the dishwasher do its job

It is no longer necessary to pre-rinse dishes and doing so unnecessarily wastes water and energy.

Simply scrape the dishes and let the dishwasher do the rest.

56. Use your dishwasher’s eco mode

Use the dishwasher’s eco mode where've possible. Eco modes are designed to give good results while reducing energy and water consumption.

57. Select a lower temperature & shorter cycle

Even if your dishwasher doesn’t have an eco mode, use a lower temperature mode and shorter cycle to cut down on power consumption – almost al the time the results will be just fine.

TV & Entertainment

58. Switch the TV off

It’s that simple - watch less TV and go for a walk, meet friends or read a book instead. This will save electricity but it will also have a positive impact on your health and family life.

59. Choose LED over LCD or Plasma TVs

LED TVs are much more energy efficient than LCD and Plasma TVs. Compare TVs before buying to make sure you pick one with a good energy rating and low electricity consumption.

Samsung UE55KS9000 TV
Even large LED TVs like the 55-inch Samsung UE55KS9000 cost just £8.63 to run per year if used for 2 hours per day.

60. Check energy rating and electricity usage

When buying a new TV, make sure it is as energy efficient as possible, there can be big differences between models.

61. Choose a smaller TV

A 55-inch TV has a 89% larger screen area compared to a 40-inch TV. For most rooms, a smaller TV will be completely fine. Have a look at how to find the right size TV.

62. Enable the TV’s ambient light sensor

A TV's ambient light sensor can help save 30-50% of electricity.

Larger TVs will have an ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts the TV’s brightness depending on the surrounding conditions.

63. Check if you TV has an eco mode

Eco mode works similar to an ambient light sensor but picture quality might suffer.

64. Save electricity while listening to radio on your TV

Some TVs have a radio screen blanking feature which switches the screen off. Alternatively, dim the screen as much as possible. This can save up to 90% of electricity.

65. Kill standby mode

Save £30* per year by disconnecting appliances.

The power consumption of new TVs in standby mode is now significantly lower than it used to be due to new regulations.

Games consoles, set top boxes and stereos all consume electricity while in standby mode. Connect them all to the same multi-socket extension that can be switched off when not in use.

66. Connect your TV and peripherals to an intelligent energy saving plug

When you switch the TV off, the plug will completely disconnect all devices such as Blu-Ray players and external speakers preventing them to remain on standby mode. Most plugs are surge protected.

Lime energy saving plug
Energy saving plugs are activated by your TV's remote control

67. Set-top boxes and PVRs

Many Freeview set-top boxes and PVRs consume up to £20 of electricity per year but don’t have a power button so they can record programs and receive updates. If you choose to completely switch off your Freeview box or PVR check the manufacturer’s website to make sure you’re not missing out on any updates.

68. Unplug mobile and laptop chargers

Chargers for mobile phones, tablets and even electric toothbrushes all consume electricity when plugged in.

Computers

69. Set sleep mode in preferences

Adjust your desktop computer or laptop’s preferences so sleep mode is activated after 5-10 minutes of inactivity.

70. Switch printers and scanners on only when required

Laser printers can cost around £18 per year if left on standby.

Keep printers and scanners switched off when not in use.

71. Use a laptop instead of a PC

Laptops use far less energy than PCs. They have smaller screens than PCs and are built for maximum energy efficiency to prolong battery life.

72. Unplug laptop power supplies

Most people leave their laptops on charge continuously while at home. This is unnecessary and might even damage the laptop’s battery, although there is less risk with newer models.

Bathroom

73. Reduce the pressure of your power shower

Some power showers can use twice as much water as an average shower. Reducing shower pressure will reduce water and electricity consumption.

74. Limit showers to 4 minutes per day

A shorter 4-minute shower combined with a water saving showerhead will use just 32 liters of water.

75. Reduce shower temperature

Taking a cold shower will get your circulation going and leave you feeling refreshed.

76. Insulate the hot water cylinder

A hot water cylinder jacket should be least 75mm thick

Homes with electric storage heaters will usually have a hot water cylinder heated by electricity. Top up the insulation of your hot water cylinder by buying a cylinder jacket. This can save you over £100* per year.

77. Turn down your electric water heater thermostat

Turn down your thermostat to between 55ºC and 60ºC

Electric water heaters keep water at a preset temperature for a long time until it is used.

78. Turn off extractor fans as soon as possible

Extractor fans extract moisture from their bathroom, but they also throw out air that was heated requiring a lot of energy. Make sure the extractor fan is only on when required.

Lighting

79. Make the most of natural light

The best way to save electricity on lighting is to keep the lights switched off. Maximise natural light inside the room - open blinds and curtains and keep windows clean. Natural light is also improves your health and happiness.

80. Switch lights off when you leave the room

Simple habits like this cost nothing are very effective.

81. Get a motion activated light switch

For a more high-tech solution install a motion activated light switch for rooms like hallways that are unoccupied most of the time.

82. Avoid vintage-style light bulbs

Retro light bulbs have become fashionable in recent years but use as much electricity as an old incandescent light bulb.

83. Replace old light bulbs with LED bulbs

LED bulbs can last up to 50,000 hours (that’s 11 years if used for 12 hours every day)

Lighting makes up around 18%* of an average electricity bill. LED bulbs are very enegy efficient and the one-time investment will pay itself back many times over.

84. Avoid halogen bulbs

Replacing halogen lights with LEDs can save £35* per year.

Recessed halogen ceiling lights may look modern but beware - they are real energy guzzlers! A standard bulb will use 50W of electricity; a ceiling with 8 light fittings will consume a massive 400W. This is over 40 times the amount of energy compared to a pendant light with a 9.5W LED bulb.

85. Get creative with LED bulbs

You might not like the look of LED light bulbs but there are many ways to style your home, even if you prefer a ‘retro’ look. Buy nice but inexpensive lampshades for ceiling pendant lights and floor lamps.

Floor lamp with lamp shade in living room
A comfortable interior can also be highly energy efficient

86. Choose floor lamps over ceiling lights

Ceiling lights and chandelier light fittings require several light bulbs. You might find that 1-2 floor lamps create a better atmosphere with fewer light bulbs.

Garden

87. Use external solar lights

Light your garden paths with solar lights that store the sun’s energy during the day and prove light at night.

88. Use a motion detector to trigger external lights

Instead of leaving external lights on all night, use a motion sensor to trigger lights when movement is detected.

89. Check for hidden electricity users

If you have a larger garden, look for things like fountains that consume power continuously. Connect them to a timer socket so they only run when required.

90. Choose a workout instead of high tech

Do you really need an electric leaf blower that sits unused in a shed for most of the year? An old fashioned rake is not only cheaper, saves electricity but also provides a free workout.

91. Get a low energy pool pumps

If you’re lucky enough to have a pool, check your pump is as efficient as possible. Pumps tend to run for a long time and the difference between one that energy efficient and as wasteful one could add several hundred pounds a year to your bill.

Monitor electricity usage

92. Get a smart meter

Smart meters will help to monitor electricity usage more frequently and accurately.

Smart meters are currently being rolled out throughout the UK and will send details of your electricity usage directly to your energy supplier.

93. Install an energy monitor

Energy monitors will tell you how much electricity your home uses and how much it is costing you. This will help you to identify areas where savings can be made.

Home energy monitor
Home energy monitors allow you to monitor your electricity usage on multiple devices

94. Choose Energy Star certified products

[link https://www.energystar.gov]Energy Star[link] is a voluntary program by the US Environmental Protection Agency but you will find certified products in the UK too.

Generate your own electricity

Even if you save as much electricity as possible, your home will require some power. Why not generate your own?

95. Solar PV panels

You can power back to the grid through the feed-in tariff.

Solar photovoltaic panels generate free electricity, although there is an upfront cost. This will reduce your electricity bill and you could even earn money.

Solar panels on roof

96. Heat water with solar thermal panels

Solar thermal panels are cheap to install and can cut your water heating bill significantly.

97. Ground source heat pumps

You could reduce your electricity bill by replacing your electric heating with a ground source heat pump that extracts heat from the ground.

98. Air source heat pumps

Working in a similar way to refrigerators, air source heat pumps are an energy efficient alternative to air-conditioning.

99. Wind turbines

Wind turbines are cheaper to install than solar panels. If the wind speed around your house make wind turbines feasible you could be up and running for about £2,000.

100. Hydro generation

If you own land with a river or stream, a micro hydro system could be an attractive way to generate your own electricity and generate additional income.

Congratulations!

Implementing just a few of the above tips will help to save money off your electricity bill. Minimise the environmental impact of the power you still need with our final tip:

101. Switch to a green electricity supplier

Most utility companies offer green tariffs but make sure to check that it contains 100% green electricity, or switch to a green electricity supplier like Good Energy or Ecotricity. Switching suppliers can save you over £200 per year.

*Figures from Energy Saving Trust website
**Based on an electricity price of £0.14 per kWh
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